PowerPoint Karaoke in November!

The holidays are lurking around the corner. The Christmas decorations are already feeding on the rotting corpses of the Halloween decorations, and you are eyeing that can of jellied cranberry sauce. What will save you from all that cheer, tinsel, and family facetime?

PowerPoint Karaoke, of course! See improv comedians bravely attempt to give a PowerPoint presentation for a deck that they have never seen before.

This tremendous event happens at the Bryant-Lake Bowl on Thursday, November 29th, at 10:00pm! Doors will open at 9:30pm, so arrive early and have a beer!

This month, we are partnered with Fearless Comedy! This month’s presenters are: Matt Allex, Molly Glover, Nick Glover, and Anna Weggel. (That’s right! We will have some husband-versus-wife action this time!)

As (almost) always, I’ll be there, slinging the slides!

Tickets are $7 ($5 with a MN Fringe button), and can be purchased at the Bryant Lake Bowl website!

If you like doing the Facebook thing, you can do that here:

Please attend! Laugh! Drink beer!

MN Amendments: Doing It Wrong

Image from the Wikimedia Commons

Today, the citizenry of Minnesota will choose whether to adopt two proposed amendments into the Minnesota constitution. The first amendment would limit marriage to a union between one man and one woman. The second would invoke Voter ID practices.

I won’t get into gay rights or whether voter ID disenfranchises large portions of the electorate. Even outside those sizeable issues, both of those amendments should be kept out of the constitution. Here’s why: neither amendment has any business being in a constitution.

Regarding the marriage amendment, there’s one giant honking red flag that should clue anyone on either side of the political aisle that something is amiss. Constitutions are meant to a) set up a city/state/country as an entity, and b) guarantee rights for its citizens. If an amendment does neither of these things, and especially if it limits rights instead of guaranteeing them, it probably doesn’t belong in the constitution. Limiting people’s behavior, even for the safety of others, is the business for laws. If you want to stop people from walking ferrets on Tuesdays, that’s what a law is supposed to do. If you want to stop people from driving drunk, that’s what a law is supposed to do. If your constitution is setting those limits, you’re doing it wrong.

(If there’s anyone out there that thinks gay people shouldn’t have the same rights as straight people, I simply say this: the rights of my fist stop at your face, and vice versa. Religion cannot be used to limit the rights of people who don’t subscribe to that religion. The minute our society assigns civil and monetary benefits to being married, like tax exemptions, and yet denies marriage to certain consenting adults, that becomes discrimination at a civil level. End of line.)

Now, regarding the Voter ID amendment, the amendment simply poorly designed. The amendment itself does not specify all of the operational details. That will be figured out by legislators after the vote. In essence, voters are being asked to vote on a blank slate. Nobody knows how the Voter ID procedures would be paid for, or how much it would cost, or what IDs would be included as valid, because nobody has gotten that far yet. This means that, if this amendment gets voted in, the details of it will sway with the wind depending on who’s controlling the legislature. Granted, the small details need to be malleable in order to be adaptable over time, but this thing is so vague that even Voter ID proponents should vote against it.

I personally think both amendments are terrible for other reasons, but I think this is the sort of ground that both liberals and conservatives can meet upon. If you are a Minnesota voter, please vote no on both amendments.

Edited November 11, 2012 to add: I am pleased to report that both amendments were soundly trounced yesterday. I am proud of my home state.

New Geek Life: Star Wars Disney Blah Blah

In the most recent Geek Life Podcast, we discuss Star Wars and Disney and other things that aren’t Star Wars or Disney, but it’s mostly Star Wars and Disney. Enjoy episode 173!


Fortune #196

Last week, one of my coworkers left this world very suddenly. On Wednesday, she was here at work, in what seemed to be perfectly fine health. By Thursday evening, she was gone, the victim of a brain aneurysm.

Even though I work in a massive corporate headquarters complex, everyone knew and loved her.  She worked in the company store, usually at the register, so pretty much everyone has talked to her at least once. And she was hard to forget, too! She was a compact little Hispanic woman with a huge smile and a bubbling personality. I don’t think I ever saw her with even a bored look on her face, much less a sad or frustrated expression. She always looked like she was thrilled to see you. She’d chat with everyone. Her pleasantness was unassailable. Even after the roughest day in the office, if you visited the shop on the way out and saw her, you’d leave happier.

She was an older woman, perhaps in her 60s, but she was certainly far too young to leave.

I talked to her on Wednesday. I bought some cookie ingredients, and she was behind the register. We were laughing about a terrible wisecrack that her husband had made some time ago.

And then, the next day, I got the news via e-mail. I won’t get to laugh with her again.

I’ll miss her, even though I realize I barely knew her. I can’t even imagine how her family is dealing with the suddenness of her passing. However, I think I’m glad she went suddenly. She was never ill. I’d like to think that this is because her happiness was truly unassailable. I’d like to think she was smiling right up to the second that her brain switched off.

Behold My Butt-Numb-a-Thon 14 Silliness

In December of every year, Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News hosts his birthday party as a 24-hour nonstop film marathon in Austin, TX. This extravaganza is the aptly-named Butt-Numb-a-Thon, and nobody except Harry really knows what will be played. You just show up, and Harry just shows you stuff: everything from crazy vintage films to secret screenings of the latest Hollywood extravaganzas.

The thing about the BNAT, though, is that a lot of people want to go, and there are only so many seats in the theater. Thus, there is the yearly ritual of filling out the BNAT application. This is a questionaire during which you are often asked to describe who you are in the nerdiest possible terms, provide entertaining photos of yourself, and otherwise dance for Harry’s amusement. There are many reasons for this elaborate ritual. First, it weeds out people who aren’t willing to (or lack the sense of humor) work a little for a coveted ticket. Second, it builds community between BNAT hopefuls (as we are prone to gather together and share our work with one another). Third, it amuses our Mostly Benevolent Puppetmaster.

This year, there were three audio/visual components to the application process. First, you were to take a photo of yourself that explains what sort of movie nerd you are. Second, you were to take a photo of yourself that would approximate what you would look like if you weren’t chosen to attend Butt-Numb-a-Thon 14. Third, as extra credit, you were to create a video of yourself, acting out your favorite scene of your favorite movie (with bonus consideration if you managed to morph it into a reference about your favorite terrible film).

BNAT hopefuls have been gathering all week on Facebook, sharing their photos and videos. There are hours of videos strung together in a YouTube playlist, if you want to cruise everyone’s public entries.

But for now, here’s what I did.

Exhibit 1: the photo of myself as a film geek.

Self-Portrait with Death Race 2000 Car

Yes, I already showed off this photo earlier this year, but it’s entirely appropriate. I’m still worth 10 points!

Exhibit 2: What I would look like if I didn’t get an invite to BNAT 14.

BNAT Seppuku

I only realized after I took the photo and moved all the furniture back that I had been holding the knife the wrong way. I should have read the Wikipedia entry on seppuku much more closely. And I should have looked down.

Exhibit 3: A recreation of my favorite scene from my favorite movie.

That’s right. Dead Alive is indeed my favorite film of all time. Second is Lawrence of Arabia. So there.

I am extraordinarily thankful that I was able to bribe Jerry Belich into being cameraman for this video. There’s no way I could have filmed it myself in a reasonable amount of time, as my DSLR is my only proper video camera, and it’s extraordinarily fussy in terms of focus. It’s also great that Jerry and I are great collaborators and work super-fast together; there are something like 60 shot setups in this 5-minute film. We filmed all of the live stuff in the space of a couple hours. (The time-lapse and stop motion work was all me, and I did that on another evening.)

I did all the ADR myself. I’m so sorry, everyone.

Exhibit 3a: How I bribed Jerry to help me with my BNAT 14 video.

That’s right. Jerry walked up to me and said, “Will you be my John Belushi?”

I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to say those words to me, and I didn’t even know it.

Anyway, Jerry worked on my video because I helped him with his. We filmed this in about 20 minutes at the end of a cul-de-sac near my apartment. We borrowed the black ties, but I’m now convinced we both need to have black ties of our own.